25 July 2017

Back to "normal"

With the start of a new school year fast approaching I thought I'd do a quick review of my "summer" holidays. When I last wrote I'd just finished moving into my new office although there was still a bit of setting up and unpacking of boxes to do.

On 22nd June I flew out of Phnom Penh and into Singapore, where I spent the night in an airport hotel before catching a somewhat crowded daytime flight to Brisbane. Thankfully the person in front of me didn't put their seat back for the entire flight so I was able to get some computer work done (attendance book completed and several hours work on a new bilingual mathematics dictionary). On arrival in Brisbane I cleared immigration and customs with a minimum of fuss and was met by my special friend, who took be back to my "home away from home". We enjoyed catching up and then I eventually found my winter pyjamas and enjoyed snuggling under blankets for the first time.

Saturday to Tuesday morning I was in Brisbane, getting settled back into Australia and doing the first of many jobs on the "to do" list. On Sunday evening I worked out how to use Google Maps on my phone so I didn't get lost going across town (did you know Google Maps has a directions feature that is just like a navigation system in your car - a lovely lady gives you the directions necessary to get to your location and you don't have to touch your phone during the whole journey). On Monday I went to visit Gerard at ITC Publications, who provided me with a very generous gift for our school. More of that in a later post. Followed a different route on the way home, including some tunnels, and somehow managed to leave the lights on! Next morning I had a flat battery. Fortunately my friend's son was home so I was able to take his car to my first appointment, and then he jump started mine when I was ready to leave for Toowoomba.

The trip to Toowoomba ended up being via the scenic route (via Rosewood, Grandchester, Laidley, Gatton, and Helidon) due to a nasty 3-vehicle accident on the Warrego Highway, but I arrived in plenty of time for my next appointment. I then spent Tuesday to Sunday in Toowoomba completing more tasks on my "to do" list (medical appointments, house inspection, and catching up with friends and supporters). That week I also finished off the on-line IPC (International Primary Curriculum) course that I was doing for school. Sunday morning I shared briefly in the service at South Toowoomba Baptist and then after a light lunch with my hosts, headed back to Brisbane.

On Tuesday 4th July I took the bus and two trains to Brisbane Airport and caught my flight down to Coffs Harbour. That flight took me on a trip down memory lane as the plane was very similar to those I used to fly in when I lived in Roma. The next nine days, staying with my Mum, were my "holiday" when I took time to make and colour a jigsaw, do lots of walking, spot whales and dolphins, make some cards, have a haircut, do some shopping, visited two churches, caught up with a few more people, and enjoy watching TV with Mum. My sister came to visit for a few days at the end as well, which was good, since I didn't get to see her last year.

On Thursday 13th July, Mum and I loaded up the car and drove to Brisbane, making a stop at the Macadamia Castle for a yummy lunch. It was a slower than usual trip due to the Woolgoolga to Ballina Highway Upgrade that is in progress. Mum dropped me off at my "home away from home" and headed across town to visit friends. On Saturday 15th July I spent most of the day at Chandler Aquatic Centre doing my AustSwim Teacher of Towards Competitive Strokes, including an hour or so in the heated outdoor pool! Thankfully it was a beautiful Brisbane winter's day and the heated water was quite pleasant, just a bit chilly getting out into the wind. On Sunday I attended the church that my family attended 35 years ago, and where the friends I stay with still attend.

From Monday to Friday I enjoyed slow starts to the day, and spent up to 2 and a half hours each day at Dunlop Park Memorial Swimming Pool, where I managed to complete the requisite 10 hours of observations I needed for my AustSwim course. I also worked reading the book from the course and completing the theory exams. I've still got quite a bit of reading and four on-line assessments to do before that is fully complete, but hopefully I can do that this week. I also had the fun of packing my suitcase for the return trip to Phnom Penh. With 15+ kg of donated resources for teachers, it was tight, but I ended up checking in with 29.8kg! Phew!

Saturday morning was a very early start (4.45am), leaving "home" at 5.30am to get to the airport. Thankfully this time my friend's husband was able to drive me so the trip that took 1.5 hours by public transport when I flew to Coffs Harbour took us just 25 minutes. Check-in ended up taking a little longer than anticipated because I was on the return leg of my journey (which the check-in person was a little concerned over - thankfully I already had a visa through to September and they let me on the flight). Airlines don't like people flying on one-way tickets lest the passenger is not allowed into the country they are flying to. Once through security and border control I did heaps of walking to make sure I got my steps up. A one hour stop over in Singapore and then in to Phnom Penh in the early evening (although for me it was more like 8.45pm).

Yes, I had a great summer, but I'm very happy to be home in Phnom Penh and getting back into my usual routines.